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FTC Fines TRUSTe, Privacy Certification Company

The Federal Trade Commission settled charges today that TRUSTe, a company that provides privacy certifications for online businesses including children's privacy and the US-EU Safe Harbor program, deceived consumers through its privacy seal program. The FTC charged TRUSTe with failure to conduct re-certifications for companies that displayed privacy seals, even though TRUSTe stated on its website that it conducted annual re-certifications. "TRUSTe promised to hold companies accountable for protecting consumer privacy, but it fell short of that pledge," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. Under the consent agreement, TRUSTe is prohibited from misrepresenting its business practices to consumers. TRUSTe must also submit a detailed filing to the FTC every year, describing its COPPA recertification process and must pay a fine of $200K. In February, EPIC submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission, urging the agency to improve pending settlements in several Safe Harbor enforcement actions, citing weaknesses in current Safe Harbor oversight. And just this month, EPIC filed a lengthy amicus brief in federal appeals court in support of the FTC's "Section 5" authority. For more information, see EPIC: FTC.

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